Draft changes to Cinematograph Act misread: I&B to House panel
The proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act have been misunderstood and will not mean that the central government will censor content, ministry of information and broadcasting officials told the parliamentary panel on information and technology on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter said.
The officials clarified that the proposed changes seek to allow the government to ask the censor board to reconsider its decision if it violates the criteria laid down in the law, a person familiar with the matter said.
“It is the board that will take the final call,” the person said, quoting officials called by the parliamentary panel that reviewed the functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), in the context of the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The draft amendments have provoked a sharp response from the film industry that has expressed concerns that some proposed provisions could curtail creative freedom. The proposed amendments enable the introduction of a broader age-related classification and seek to curb piracy in the industry.
The proposed change in the Cinematograph Act has caused consternation in the film industry over the power to recall and review a film’s certification. The proposed changes led to 1400 filmmakers and artists including Anurag Kashyap, Shabana Azmi, and Farhan Akhtar writing an open letter to the ministry objecting to this kind of censorship.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin backed demands to scrap the proposal, insisting that the draft bill seeks to restore the Union government’s revisionary powers “that were struck down by the Supreme Court two decades ago”.
If the proposed amendments are cleared, then the government can ask CBFC to reconsider cinematic content on the basis of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to any offence.